As part of our Green MBA Success Series, I am interviewing Green MBA graduates to uncover what steps they took to transition to green careers using their degrees. Meet Janet Smartt, Program Manager, StopWaste.Org, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board. Read our interview with Janet, in which she shares her story of how she used her green MBA to evolve her career from a career in corporate marketing and public outreach to one in sustainability program management. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
Name: Janet Smartt
Title: Program Manager
Q. What are the responsibilities of your job?
A. As a program manager for the business assistance team of StopWaste.Org. I’m responsible for marketing and program management. I work with a small team who markets our programs to the medium and large businesses in Alameda County, and we also manage the programs by supporting our clients’ waste reduction and/or prevention initiatives. My day could include any number of responsibilities – from writing web content, co-creating outreach strategies, following-up with clients who’ve applied for grant funding or have requested help finding a vendor who will help them recycle those “hard to recycle” materials, or speaking at community industry events.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I truly enjoy empowering companies and other organizations to make improvements in their materials management and environmental impact via reducing and preventing waste. I also enjoy promoting companies that are doing an exceptional job via our agency’s awards and advertising.
Q. Green MBA Program Attended/Year Completed:
Q. What, if any additional certifications, training, degrees do you have that have helped you in your obtaining a position in the sustainability/green sector?
A. My training in Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) has been incredible valuable, and my background in both corporate marketing and public outreach has been helpful for business success in general.
Note From the Editor: In 2007 and 2008 Janet was a Program Outreach and Communications Manager for Keep the Delta Clean. While she was there, she co-created the marketing strategy and implementation of 1.6 million dollar public education campaign for clean water. This involved managing the development and distribution of multiple print materials, website, and give-aways; training and managing volunteers; and facilitated stakeholder engagement across government agencies and businesses. Janet teamed up to educate boaters about safe and environmentally friendly boating while improving access to pollution prevention services at marinas throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Q. Why did you decide to make a career change into sustainability?
A. I wanted to do something that I cared about – something that “gave back.” I have always cared about human health, and more and more I appreciate healthy people are supported by a healthy environment. I also feel that we are stewards, and that it is our great task to care for the health of our planet for future generations.
Q. What steps did you take that were the most effective in helping you make the transition to a career in sustainability?
A. Going back to school for my MBA in Sustainable Management was key. I would not have made such a successful transition without the skills, knowledge and network of my graduate program at Presidio Graduate School. While in the program I took advantage of networking events, firm nights, and the career development services. I also had the opportunity to work on real-world projects, such as a recycling and waste prevention plan for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s five retail store chains. Having MBA credentials was likely helpful for my career transition, but the project experience was what pushed my resume to the top with my current employer.
Note from Editor: While attending Presidio, Janet worked on a number of projects that enabled her to showcase expertise in sales and marketing, while at the same time use her newly aquired sustainability knowledge. As a marketing strategist for Xtracycle, a cargo bicycle manufacturer, she identified most profitable customer segments, pain points, and demographics; analyzed the competitive space; made recommendations for smart spending on sponsorship, events and media; and co-created a communications and competitive strategy.
During that time, Janet also worked as a marketing consultant for Powergetics, an intelligent energy storage start-up. Her responsibilities included researching and reporting on top lead opportunities to prepare for first customer conference. She also created web site copy and online information design. As a communications consultant for the Natural Capital Institute Janet implemented CRM system (Salesforce), researched and reported on collaborative and competitive landscapes, and co-created marketing strategy and target market surveys.
Q. What are your long term career goals?
A. To continue to positively influence the way business and community leaders “choose and use” in our professional and personal lives.
Q. Please share any additional thoughts that you feel might be helpful to someone seeking to make this type of career transition.
A. If you are considering going back to school for education in sustainable principles and practices, my experience was that the investment was worth the time and money. Not only was I able to change careers, I also gained a network of friends and colleagues that will last a lifetime.
Join us each month as we introduce to sustainability professionals who used a green MBA to make a green career transition. If you have a green MBA, have successfully transitioned into a career in sustainability, and would like us to spotlight you in the Green MBA Success Series, or if you know someone you think we should spotlight, drop me a line. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
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